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New Zealand police probe if man who died in standoff linked to mosque attacks

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – New Zealand police are investigating whether a man who died from a stab wound in a standoff on Wednesday had any connection with the March 15 shooting attack on two mosques in Christchurch, which killed 50 people.

National police commissioner Mike Bush said Christchurch police found several firearms in a search of a local property late Tuesday evening. At about 12.30am on Wednesday, they located a 54 year-old man sought in relation to the firearms in a stopped vehicle.

Police negotiators spoke with the man over a number of hours and officers approached the vehicle at around 3.40am. Bush said the man was found in the car critically injured with what appeared to be a stab wound. A knife was located in the vehicle.

First aid was applied but the man died at the scene. No firearms were discovered inside the vehicle.

“A high priority investigation is underway to determine whether or not the deceased man posed a threat to the community. This will include further searches of Christchurch properties and interviews with family and associates,” Bush said.

“At this time there is no evidence to suggest this person had any involvement in the attacks of 15 March, however this forms an important part of the investigation.”

A suspected white supremacist has been charged with one count of murder over the Christchurch shootings and will appear in court on April 5.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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